BAKU, (AFP) - Azerbaijan will continue to work with international mediators to resolve the conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, despite earlier claiming they were of little use, the Azeri foreign minister said in an interview with AFP.
Vilayat Guliyev told AFP late on Tuesday the so-called Minsk Group of mediators, mandated by the Organisation for Security and Co-ooperation in Europe (OSCE), was still well placed to facilitate peace talks over the disputed enclave.
"The Minsk Group is the only body authorised by the OSCE and recognised by the international community to mediate over Karabakh," Guliyev said in an interview. "Therefore in the future we will continue to co-operate with the Minsk Group," he said.
"Naturally, we are not satisfied with everything," Guliyev said. "Our President (Heydar Aliyev) has spoken out critically several times about the Minsk Group.
"But the group has a certain amount of experience. They know the situation very well. Therefore to swap the Minsk Group for some other format or organisation would not be right at this stage."
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war from 1989-1994 over Karabakh after the mainly Armenian population there declared independence from Azerbaijan. Some progress has been made recently in talks to find a permanent settlement but they have been stalled since the spring.
The Minsk Group, made up of one senior envoy each from Russia, France and the United States, last visited the region at the start of July. After that visit Guliyev said it had produced no positive results and suggested that the position of the Minsk Group on border demarcation unfairly favoured Armenia. Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and Aliyev are expected to discuss Karabakh on the fringes of a summit of leaders of former Soviet states in the southern Russian resort of Sochi in August.
The Azeri foreign minister said a "framework" was in place for the two sides to make progress towards settling the conflict but he declined to say what it was. Each side blames the other for the recent breakdown of peace talks, while Azerbaijan has started using war-like rhetroic, saying it does not exclude the use of force to settle the dispute.